Collective Imagination (RSA) Phase 2

Engaging with the participants

Based on the formative feedback from Phase 1, I redesigned the toolkit intending to make the proposed activities more engaging.
This project was a duo project, and while I did the design and conceptual work, Mariana handled part of the iterative testing.

I looked at companies’ and councils’ tactics used in urban planning public engagement.
One of the factors I researched through the Smart Cities Dive platform about urban development was On-The-Ground engagement (Ford et al., 2012). Instead of planning a meeting or an event in centralised locations, the discourse should happen in a more immediate area to the community with who we want to engage. It is more convenient and practical and removes the formality of the engagement.

This strategy gave me an idea that when engaging a neighbourhood in reimagining the future of their street, I could place a transparent board where the postcards created and written by the residents are displayed to drive the collective discussion. Putting a display in place they see often, would encourage sharing ideas and conversations and maybe improve the rate of engagement as people would be reminded to complete the activities. I also hope that seeing the postcards displayed would give the residents a sense that their participation creates tangible results.

Another tactic I used in designing Urbanite was relying on accessible materials and visual and cultural language that is easy to understand.
The language used on the activity sheets is not specialised and should be easy to comprehend for people who are non-native language speakers or younger. Everyone’s voice counts.
Using the map analogy – I want the users to give me directions to understand their concerns and hopes. I use the visual language of envelopes and postcards, which suggest that they should engage and send a ‘message’. I ask the participants to share a toolkit with a neighbour – because being a part of a community is about giving and receiving, like any relationship.

At the same time, the activities I designed are easy to adapt to various neighbourhoods, can be easily translated, and the total cost is kept low due to the use of recyclable materials. I tried to layer these strategies: sustainability, accessibility and embedding the project within the community into designing Urbanite.

The components of the toolkit
Completing the kits
Feedback sessions

Secondary research sources

Sanders, E., Stappers, PJ. 2014. Probes, toolkits and prototypes: three approaches to making in codesigning, CoDesign, 10:1, 5-14, DOI: 10.1080/15710882.2014.888183
Gaver, W., Dunne, A., Pacenti E. 1999. Cultural Probes. [online] January 1999, ACM Interactions 6: 21 – 29 Available: [Accessed January 10 2022]
Dunne, A., Raby F. 2001. Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects. Berlin: Birkhauser
Holmes, K. 2020. Mismatch. How Inclusion Shapes Design. Cambridge: The MIT Press
Ford, G., Canter, A., Hensold, B. 2012. Currents: Engaging. Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Light A., Akama Y. 2012. The human touch: participatory practice and the role of facilitation in designing with communities. In Proceedings of the 12th Participatory Design Conference: Research Papers – Volume 1 PDC ’12. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 61–70.
Ermacora, T., Bullivant L. 2015. Recoded city: Co-creating urban futures. Abingdon: Routledge
de Lange, M., de Waal, M. 2018. The Hackable City: Digital Media and Collaborative City-Making in the Network Society. (1st ed.) Springer Publishing Company Incorporated.

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